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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Joseph Patrick Burke
  • Born 21 January 1921, Dublin
  • Died 26 June 2005, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
  • Educated Blackrock College
  • Occupation Bank Official
  • Debut 11 July 1953 v Scotland at Ormeau
  • Cap Number 461
  • Style Right-hand bat, right-arm medium fast
  • Teams Merrion

Joe Burke, brother of fellow Merrion stalwart Tommy, was a useful all rounder at Senior League and Cup level, scoring 3263 runs for his club at 22.38 and taking 280 wickets at 14.65 in a 21 year career between 1941 and 1962. A stylish opening batsman, he hit 16 fifties in competitivecricket, his best score being 89* against YMCA in 1948. He played a leading part in securing a 38 runs victory in this match as his lively medium pace also brought him figures of 4-22. A key figure in the League wins of 1945, 1952 and 1958, he was the leading all rounder in the LCU in 1958, with 278 runs at 23.16 and 38 wickets at 9.14. His career best bowling figures came in the 1945 season against Railway Union when, defending a total of only 112, he had 7-28, bowling the Park Avenue side out for 83.

However he was never to display the same form in the matches he played for Ireland. Joe Burke was a useful all rounder at League and Cup level, a solid batsman and good opening bowler, who never fulfilled his talents in the matches he played for Ireland. This may partly be explained by inconsistent selection, he never had a run in the national side, and partly by a seeming reluctance by successive Irish captains to use his bowling. For example, in his debut match against Scotland at Ormeau in a rain-ruined match in 1953, he did not get a bowl at all. It was a spinners wicket certainly, but Larry Warke, never more than a "get the shine off" bowler had 3 overs after the opening attack of Webb and Ingram and before Boucher and Bowden came on.

Evidence that he might have been better used comes from a study of his wickets, only six, but all batsmen of some calibre including the great New Zealander John Reid, in College Park in 1958, and one time Somerset captain and stylish opening bat, MM Walford, clean bowled at Lord's in 1955. His best bowling 2-32, in the badly rain affected MCC centenary match of 1958, came when he was opening the bowling, a role rarely entrusted to him. His batting was probably not of international class but again a point of interest arises. In his seven completed innings, only one paceman, GW Youngson of Scotland took his wicket. Otherwise he fell to the spinners including Test men Walter Robins, Roy Tattersall and Malcolm Hilton. He only reached double figures three times; twice in the 1954 Scots match being his best showing.

Away from the Irish side he was a stalwart of the Merrion side being, rather surprisingly only their 8th capped player. Only one more, Joe Hopkins in 1961, was to play for Ireland until the face of Merrion was changed by the advent of the Joyce brothers and sisters.